The OnePlus 3 is a tour-de-force and firmly delivers on its flagship killer status.
Raw power, sleek aluminium build, good capable camera, Oxygen OS, still a bargain
Display niggles for some, no storage expansion, battery needs more stamina
ONEPLUS CO-FOUNDER Carl Pei previously claimed the OnePlus 3 would conjure that same special feeling as the original OnePlus One.
At its launch the OnePlus One was unexpected, a bold battle cry, while the invite-system created a sense of exclusivity. It showed that it was possible to build a phone with flagship-baiting specs at an affordable price. The gauntlet had been thrown down.
A few years on and there was still a fervour surrounding OnePlus' next phone, but with the invite-only system gone can the OnePlus 3 have the same impact on the market?
Let's get this out of the way. The OnePlus 3 is the best-looking piece of hardware OnePlus has put out to date.
Huawei came of age with the release of the P9 earlier this year, and the OnePlus 3 could be the same watershed moment for this Chinese phonemaker.
For the first time, the design and overall feel is that of a premium device. It's hard not to draw comparisons with another phone that also successfully mixed a full metal unibody construction with subtle curves, we are of course talking about the HTC 10. See below for the two handsets side-by-side.
Most notable are the precision-drilled speaker holes that give the OnePlus 3 a loud, if not the most robust audio output we've heard of late. The soundstage comes off a little flat, and there's no clear distinction between instruments when listening to music. As it stands it's perfunctory but you'll be better off plugging in your favourite pair of headphones for extended periods. The OnePlus 3 also includes a USB Type-C port that if anything ensures its future-proof credentials.
The OnePlus 3 measures 152.7x74.7x7.4mm, and has undergone some nips and tucks when compared with its last predecessor proper, the 151.8x74.9x9.9mm of the OnePlus 2. It's also a shade lighter at 158g vs 170g. This new thin and light profile means it feels graceful in hand, and it's not going to take up anymore pocket space than you're used too.
In terms of design the OnePlus 3 has successfully caught up with the competition. For better or for worse the sandstone rear has been dispatched, and instead replaced with smooth aluminium.
Among the cosmetic changes we're pleased to see the Alert Slider survived. For the uninitiated, the Slider is a physical switch that toggles notification behaviour. You can select between receiving all notifications, priority notifications or none at all (silent). These can be further customised via the dedicated Alert Slider menu in Settings.
At launch the OnePlus 3 was only optioned in Graphite, but in recent days a Soft Gold edition has been spotted in the wild.
In a further change from the OnePlus design of old, the backplate is no longer removable. Should you want to mix things up, there are still options available to you in the form of five cases priced at £20 each from the OnePlus website.